Dubrovnik Lovrijenac – A Fortress That Stood the Test of Time
Dubrovnik Lovrijenac fortress is one of the top attractions in the city of Dubrovnik. Perched on a high rock at the edge of the city, this 37-meter above sea level tower never fails to impress visitors coming from every part of the world.
Initially built to defend the western part of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, it was established to protect the city from both sea and land attacks.
It’s often called St. Lawrence fortress or ‘Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar’ since it’s located on a high altitude.
History of Dubrovnik Lovrijenac
Let’s go back in time to learn about some Dubrovnik’s fort Lovrijenac historical facts. Some records show that Fort Lovrijenac existed since the 1300s when a vote was made by the council to choose the fort commander.
However, experts in history state that Fort Lovrijenac was built between 1018 and 1038.
A legend that dates back to the 11th century states that Venetians wanted to conquer the city of Dubrovnik by establishing a fortress on the perched high-altitude rock facing the Adriatic Sea, and take control over the people.
At the time, the people of Dubrovnik knew about this strategy, so they made a considerable effort to build the fortress right before Venetians arrive in Dubrovnik.
They tricked Venetians in a way, and they were a step ahead of them.
When Venetians finally made it to Dubrovnik, carrying all their troops and cargo on their ships, they were surprised to find an enormous fortress built on a high rock right in front of their eyes. It was at that moment they knew their plan was a big fail. Those were the first records ever written about Fort Lovrijenac.
As time goes on, several construction works were made to preserve Fort Lovrijenac and avoid any damages.
Between the 15th and the 16th century, the builder I. K. Zanchi of Pesaro was responsible for the significant works of fixing the upper walls fortifications.
Following the 1667 earthquake, Fort Lovrijenac was like many other Dubrovnik buildings to suffer from significant damages. So, other repairs were done in the 17th century to keep the fort as it was before.
Architecture of Dubrovnik Lovrijenac
The three-level fortress has a triangular shape. It has three terraces since it’s built on many levels, with stiff upper wall defenses.
These terraces face the southern part of the city by the Adriatic Sea.
Fort Lovrijenac protects port Kolorina which is the ancient port of Dubrovnik.
That’s because the longest wall of the fort faces the western wall of the City Walls, and also Fort Bokar, the cylindrical oceanside fortress that was built in the 15th century to protect Dubrovnik’s Old Town entrance, the Pile Gate.
Lovrijenac fortress faces the western side of the city with its smallest part, which happens to be also its highest part.
The fort basically has the same orientation of the rock that it was built on.
The inside of Lovrijenac’s fortress features a big inner courtyard bounded by numerous arches.
Just above the entrance to Fort Lovrijenac, an engraved inscription mentions NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDITUR AURO. It means that no amount of gold can buy freedom.
The rooftop of Fort Lovrijenac features ten big cannons. The largest one is called the ‘Lizard,’ designed and made by Ivan Rabljanin in 1537.
These cannons were planted on top to defend the Old Town from pirates and intruders.
An important point to mention is the ‘Lizard’ cannon was never used.
As the fortress was conquered by the Austrian army in the 19th century and was completely defenseless, the occupying troops were transporting all the guns.
A rope, holding the gun of the ‘Lizard’ was torn off, and the gun was lost in the Adriatic Sea and was never found.
The layout of Fort Lovrijenac isn’t typical, as it was built in different proportions. It was a sort of a defense mechanism established to defend Old Town, although this mechanism failed.
It consisted of building the walls of the fortress in different thicknesses.
The exterior walls facing the Adriatic Sea were built on a 12-meter thickness! Such a thickness was made in order to protect the city from any potential enemy attack.
However, the walls facing the city are only 60cm thick. The reason for that is to protect the city not only from intruders but also from any possible riot of the fort garrison commander. So, if the garrison commander ever wanted to rebel against the city, the thin wall would collapse by the first fire attacks from fort Bokar.
Today, Fort Lovrijenac serves as a fortress and a theater. During Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the three terraces of the fortress serve as performance venues for theatrical plays.
Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ is one of the most famous plays, featuring in the Summer Festival of Dubrovnik, to be performed in Lovrijenac fortress.
It’s also possible to rent the fortress for special events and weddings.
Game of Thrones Appearance
For all ‘Game of Thrones’ fans out there, Fort Lovrijenac is the original filming location of The Red Keep, at the capital King’s Landing!
Many scenes were filmed in fort Lovrijenac like we’ve seen some of our favorite characters Tyrion, Bronn and Podrick standing there following the Battle of Blackwater Bay.
When and How to Visit It
Dubrovnik’s Lovrijenac fortress welcomes visitors daily, from 8 am to 7 pm. You can visit it at any time of the year. You don’t have to pay any additional entry fee because the price is included with the City Walls entrance ticket. It’s very easy to get there from any part of Dubrovnik.
We recommend you go to the City Walls first, climb up and walk around the Old Town. Then, visit fort Lovrijenac and witness the most incredible views of the city. At sunset, the view is the best!
Feeling intrigued to take a closer look? All you have to do is join one of our tours around Dubrovnik!